Partners in CROWD – hansa48

The CROWD is on the move – please make yourself at home!
While others may get by with a little help from their friends, the CROWD Omnibus Reading Tour would not be taking place at all without them. In this portrait series, we would like to introduce you to those who have allowed us to fill in the gaps on the map and bring the whole of Europe together in the name of literature. From May to August 2016, our associated partners will be hosts, havens, and potential life savers for over 100 authors as they snake their way through 15 different European countries and over 40 cities. We asked our partners to tell us about their work in their respective regions; their vision for the CROWD network, and the significance of literature for them both within and beyond Europe’s borders. This is what Nils Aulike  from hansa48 said

What are the main activities of your work?

To provide within our means the broadest possible range of cultural content: theatre, live music, literature, political information and education, cinema, fine arts and concoctions of them all; or, to put it rather generally, to provide a centre for exchange and communication.

How does the situation (political, economical etc.) in Kiel influence your work?

Hansa48 is subsidised by the City of Kiel. Without these subsidies there would be no Hansa48, giving us a fraction of a margin to host art that is not mainstream but niche. However, public funding of cultural activities is at such an irrelevant and ridiculously low level that it is actually futile to talk sincerely about it.

What is special about the literary scene in Kiel?

To be frank, I have no clue whatsoever.

What is literary activism supposed to mean? What does this term mean to you?

The term literary activism probably denotes the otherwise welcome but naive belief in being able to influence thought, society, and the world for the better. I am afraid it is nothing short of a painfully helpless concept. Let me give you an example:

There are only two sources of all the evil in the world, and these two are religious belief systems on the one hand, and subsequently war on the other. These two are strongly entwined in a lethal and destructive pact. The best literature about the atrocities and absurdity of this dance of death of faith and war has been written by Erich Maria Remarque, Edlef Köppen, Ernst Jünger, Arnold Zweig, Ludwig Renn, Henri Barbusse, Siegfried Sassoon, and Wilfred Owen, to name but a few. They have, regardless of borders, time and nationalitiy, pinpointed war’s unfathomable wrongness. These books and poems stand as indestructible truths. But these books and poems were also written before another even greater war. These books and poems in all their beauty are but blunt and broken blades and ineffective in the face of humankind’s bottomless and faithful stupidity, a humankind which loves to forget and refuses to learn from the past, let alone from books.

Literary activism means nothing to me. It is not active but passive. It doesn’t help to write about war. At best, it might give food for thought. In the end, one will have to act, not to agree. A single person can be activist. Literature cannot.

What do you think of literature as a European mother tongue?

I have to refer you to my answer above. In all languages, the brightest minds of generations have told the same things over and over again, and no one ever listens and learns from it. Literature as a mother tongue is a philosophical concept for academia. It will always be an uncomprehensible Babylonian snarl.

Photo © Linde Nadiani

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